Wednesday, March 6, 2019

"Who Can You Rely On, and Why?": Interview with Wicknesh Maratheyah

This week, SG Assist interviewed Mr. Wicknesh Maratheyah, SG Assist's Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), also managing director of Voltz Energy Singapore. In this interview, he discusses his personal reasons for supporting SG Assist, as well as the reasons why he believes in SG Assist's potential to transform the lives of ordinary Singaporeans.

At first glance, it may not be obvious how Wicknesh's job as a managing director at Voltz Energy, an electricity comparison platform established in 2017, led to his decision to support SG Assist.

Voltz Energy's goal is to empower Singaporeans to "make the right decisions" when choosing affordable electricity plans. Meanwhile, SG Assist is an app that allows working adults to check on their loved ones at home. Using the virtual platform, caregivers can swiftly respond to their loved ones’ needs without leaving the workplace by requesting for Kampong Heroes—trained community volunteers—to assess the situation.

So how do Voltz Energy and SG Assist relate to each other? For him, his work for both is inspired by a common goal: what drives him is his desire to help people in whatever way he can.

"My focus in life is always about helping people in terms of basic necessities," says Wicknesh. "I'm a Singaporean born and bred, so another aspect which we are all looking at is the family."

To Wicknesh, the family unit is a "basic essential need in life," which is why he believes in the vision of SG Assist. The closest that Singapore has come to creating a platform that engages its citizens in real time is perhaps the myResponder app, launched by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) in 2015. One core function of the app is to alert CPR- and AED-trained residents to cardiac arrest cases within a 400-metre radius, enabling them to respond to and de-escalate medical situations before the arrival of emergency medical services.

SG Assist, too, shares the same goal of quick response and de-escalation - but, as Wicknesh asks, "If you think about it, is there an app that covers the whole demographic? No." While the myResponder app priorities cardiac arrest cases, there was a lack of a platform devoted to serving all kinds of medical situations. Thus, this inspired him and the other founders of SG Assist to create an app that would serve all Singaporeans, regardless of why they might need it.

His relationship with his mother also inspired him to work on SG Assist. After his father passed away when he was just ten years old, his mother single-handedly raised him and his siblings to adulthood.

She was only fifty years old when she began experiencing heart palpitations, which was revealed to be a symptom of bronchitis. He recalls an incident during which his mother suffered heart palpitations and a panic attack while he was at work. As this was in the early 2000s, she was unable to contact anyone for help by phone; she also did not have a helper on whom she could rely for assistance. Fortunately, one of Wicknesh's aunts happened to visit their home to distribute wedding invitations, which allowed his mother to receive the help she needed.

In a similar non-emergency situation today, the dependent at home - for example, an expecting mother or homebound parent - could notify their caregiver about an onset of illness via the SG Assist app. The caregiver could then request a Kampong Hero to visit their dependent at home to assess the situation.

Working adults are often too busy to constantly monitor their parents' health, but Wicknesh points to another phenomenon in Singapore: elders born in the Merdeka generation prefer to live an independent lifestyle. "But what they don't realise is that, no matter how independent you are, when your body shuts down, you just can't do certain things."

Wicknesh believes that a community-based effort would have a transformative impact on Singaporean society as it empowers vulnerable citizens and caregivers alike. This is especially necessary for a modernised, work-oriented society that Wicknesh says results in a predicament of, "Who can you rely on and why?"

That's why SG Assist would only be effective with a kampong lifestyle, he adds. To him, the Merdeka generation was an embodiment of the kampong spirit, when neighbours were more communicative and eager to interact with one another.

When asked whether he believed Singapore still has the kampong spirit now, he offered: "I think they want to [have the kampong spirit], but I don't think they have the ability or facility to execute it," which is the reason why he believes in the power of SG Assist: with luck, it could become the foremost community-based platform to reignite our kampong spirit.

"You should be alert at all times," says Wicknesh. "Prevention of escalation. That's our primary objective."

The importance of alertness and awareness makes up the core of SG Assist's vision: that caregivers are always up-to-date on the health and well-being of their less able family members.

With lofty but attainable goals in mind, SG Assist aims to provide a sense of security to both caregivers and their dependents. For more information on SG Assist, visit our website today at

Written by Liyana Adnan

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"Who Can You Rely On, and Why?": Interview with Wicknesh Maratheyah

This week, SG Assist interviewed Mr. Wicknesh Maratheyah, SG Assist's Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), also managing director of Volt...